In scandal-prone filmdom, not the least is the lackluster career of a great actor, Guy Pearce, though his choice of unclassifiable turns (“Memento,” “Two Brothers,” etc.) may be a factor.
Case in point, the strange and strangely moving “The Rover,” where in a desolate post-apocalyptic wasteland, his character, Eric, maybe a former soldier of fortune, farmer or adventurer, and surely a lonely soul, embarks on a single-minded quest: reclaiming the car that a gang of thugs have appropriated (the scene where the car is stolen is jaw-droppingly original). Not till the end do we find out the completely unexpected reason he has for not giving up.
As happens in road movies, he comes across a number of weird characters but then he lives in weird times. Rey, the companion he meets and then is saddled with is played by Robert Pattinson who remains as bland as a would-be simple-minded Lennie “Of Mice and Men” character as he was as vampire or billionaire currency investor.
Despite minimalist scenery consisting of dust clouds, thorns spinning in the wind and a linear progression featuring mainly an endless spree of shootouts, not always explained, the film remains engaging throughout. Guy Pearce carries the story, unclear as it is, his stoicism often at odds with compassionate moments—not least toward his less-gifted buddy—and bursts of violence. He can go from tears to murderous rage while keeping his features almost completely still. Quite a feat but then, as I said, he is a tremendous actor.